Get Away With Fran

July 14, 2009

Curious George gets a new home

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:46 pm

Curious GeorgeIt is a little known fact that “Curious George,” the funny “big city”-dwelling monkey created by Margaret and H.A. Rey in the 1940s, has roots in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, next to what’s now the Waterville Valley ski resort.

The Reys, originally from Germany, spent summers in what’s now known as The Curious George Cottage. The nonprofit Margret and H.A. Rey Center runs educational programs, nature walks and events (including a weekend Curious George Family Festival at Waterville Valley, Aug. 7-9; rates at the resort from $56 per person including activities).

And George now has his own visitors’ center too in Waterville Valley’s Town Square, just opened (more…)

July 10, 2009

Udaipur, India? Yes according to Travel + Leisure readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:54 pm

I have to admit I get a little twinge of excitement when Travel + Leisure puts out its World’s Best Awards, because it helps in my constant quest to find what’s great and new in the world of travel.

intro1And based on this year’s results, it seems I need to get myself to Udaipur, India. Udaipur, which is in Rajasthan in Western India, and has displaced Bangkok, last year’s winner, as World’s Best City.  (Jagat Niwas Palace in photo.)

Other newcomers in top spots include Bushmans Kloof in the Cedar Mountains of South Africa (nope, haven’t been there either), which has been named Best Overall Hotel; and tour company Austin-Lehman Adventures, named Best Tour Operator.

Bali regains its 2007 title as World’s Best Island (well phew, the turtles of the Galapagos, the (more…)

Introducing kids to the Big Apple – New York City with Kids

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:53 pm

My kids are now grown, but I well remember the days when I would take them into New York City. We’d drive or take the train from Boston, and there would be much excitement and a plan with a gazillion things to do and see. And we’d get to about one-tenth of them, if that.

New York is a wonderful place for kids. But it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a pal of mine, Meryl Pearlstein, has written a very useful throw-in-your-pocketbook guidebook aimed at helping parents navigate the city, with a focus on keeping the kids entertained.

“New York City with Kids,” published by Fodor’s Family (Random House), is itself easy to navigate, with lists of top attractions right up front (the Empire State Building et al; above photo of Herald Square by Jeff Greenberg), and an unusual section titled “If Your Kid Likes,” which lists attractions based on kids’ interested. Categories include: dinosaurs, techno gadgets, princesses, weird and kooky and so forth. Another section focuses on what’s free. (more…)

Really get away at sea with Cruise West

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:50 pm

For those who dream of an extreme get away from things like declining stock markets, and Michael Jackson news and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Cruise West’s Voyages of the Great Explorers cruise offers an opportunity to do as the famous mariners of old did, and head off to sea – for a whopping 335 days. You don’t have to book the whole cruise (it’s also being sold in segments), but if you do at the end of the sailing you will have circumnavigated the world. How cool is that?

 (In my photo, above, Cruise West passengers look for whales in Baja.)

The world cruise follows the sea routes of Marco Polo (Asia, India, the Middle East), Odysseus (more…)

Cruising for fashionistas

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prada1I do have my fashionista side, even if I fought it on my recent visit to Venice, stopping in Prada only to smell the leather and drool, but then quickly moving on, my credit cards unscathed (oh why oh why does the Euro remain so high?).

In any event, a cruise offering from Crystal Cruises has tickled my fancy. The luxury line will be giving its well-heeled clientele a chance to seek the advice of fashion experts on an upcoming fashion-themed sailing.

Manning the “Fashion & Style Desk, and offering complimentary advice will be two veteran (more…)

Seabourn’s new Odyssey shines

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:46 pm

Hi from aboard the Seabourn Odyssey, the brand new super luxury ship from the Yachts of Seabourn. I am among press and travel agents lucky enough to do a preview cruise on this very special ship, which takes on its first real passengers later this week.

Work is still being done while we’re onboard (the spa’s fancy hydro pool and villa suites, for instance, are not yet open) and the plan to take us out to sea has been scrubbed – instead we will cruise around Venice’s Grand Canal (what could be better than that?) and then dock.

But that’s mostly cosmetic stuff. What we can see in the mostly completed ship is that the Odyssey is a contemporary stunner. Seabourn has had a reputation of being, well, a little old fashioned with its smaller ships. This ship, which triples the size of the others at 32,000 tons and carries 450 passengers (as opposed to 200 on the other ships) is anything but old fashioned. (more…)

Ah Venice

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:44 pm

I overnighted in Venice on my way to check out the Seabourn Odyssey, the first luxury ship to debut in six years, and first new Seabourn ship in more than a dozen years.

Like nearly everyone I know, I count this city as one of my favorites (I even had one “love” relationship that began here; it’s a romantic place).

Some things change, others don’t. The city, with all its canals and winding streets, still feels like a living museum – everywhere you look there’s something amazing. It’s simply beautiful.

St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is still full of pigeons and there is still a Prada store (more…)

Celebrity Equinox will be the spunky sibling

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:39 pm

sbw_equinox_0101

It’s hard to wax poetic about a cruise ship that’s not yet quite furnished, but as the Celebrity Equinox left Meyer Werft and got pulled by tugs on the River Ems to the Netherlands, and to sea for the first time, those of us onboard for the “conveyance” from the shipyard learned one thing: This ship will have its own personality. While year-older and very successful sibling Celebrity Solstice exudes cool, the Equinox will be a little more spunky, a little more whimsical. (more…)

Oh goodie, a new ship to explore – Celebrity Equinox in Germany

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:37 pm

When a new ship emerges from the shipyard, the cruise line executives get all giddy and some of us cruise writers do too. And so I find myself overnighting at the Maritim hotel at Germany’s Dusseldorf International Airporten route to tiny Papenberg, where Meyer Werft has been building the Celebrity Equinox.

I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this ship – which takes on its first real passengers next month – since its sister ship, Celebrity Solstice was my favorite ship of the past decade. Last year, when I first saw the 2,850-passenger Solstice, with its stunning, sophisticated contemporary decor and 1/2 acre of real lawn on top, I let out several audible “wow”s, and was even quoted as saying such on various other Websites. I hope to show more restraint this time, but who knows. The Equinox may even get a “yipee” or a “gosh” or a “golly-gee.” (more…)

Sail from Newport on the 4th

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:36 pm

If you don’t have plans yet for the 4th of July weekend you may be glad you waited. A classic three-masted schooner is serving up a bargain, sailing from Newport, Rhode Island, from only $1,300 per cabin (which means for two).

The trip is on the lovely Arabella, which summers in the East and winters in the Caribbean. The Star Spangled long weekend cruise is full of fireworks and holiday celebrations. You embark on Thursday, July 2, with the first night onboard in glamorous Newport Harbor. From there you head up Narragansett Bay and call at Bristol (enjoying the (more…)

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